THE future of Basildon Golf Centre looks secure after council bosses struck a deal with a firm to take over its management.
Ten years of uncertainty came to an end with the announcement by Basildon Council that golfing tycoon Colin Jenkins will be awarded the lease – if it is approved at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.
The course’s future has been in doubt since campaigners won a Court of Appeal battle against the council to stop a firm reshaping the course with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of building rubble.
It has been run by London Golf Management on a temporary contract, but it looked set to close after the council failed to find an operator who could run it at no cost to the council.
Kevin Blake, the councillor responsible for leisure, said: “Keeping the golf course open has always been what I have wanted.
“We want to see a popular and successful facility, but it is right that we have gone through this process to find a long-term operator.
“I am very aware of the uncertainty that has surrounded the course in the past, so I hope this decision will see us move forward in the right direction.”
If approved, Mr Jenkins will set up a new company to run the course, off Clay Hill Road, Basildon.
He will have to prove the viability of the site, which the council claims was making a loss for a number of years.
Mr Blake added: “If the course cannot demonstrate its viability and the contract or lease fails at any time during the first two years, then it is recommended that the golf course will close with immediate effect.”
Mr Jenkins said: “I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to run Basildon Golf Course.
“I am looking forward to getting started and hope it will be a success for many years to come.”
In 2005, Jack Barker Ltd won a tendering process to run the course and promised a £1.5million revamp, but it involved using huge amounts of rubble.
The council passed its controversial planning application in September 2007, but the Friends of Basildon Golf Course got it quashed at the Court of Appeal.
Since then, the council has warned it may have to close, with MalcolmBuckley, councillor responsible for regeneration, hinting it may become a housing estate.
Mick Toomer, chairman of the Friends of Basildon Golf Course, said: “For more than a decade, the golf course has been under threat, with landfill, housing and closure all threatened or proposed at one stage or another.
“None of these were acceptable to the residents, and the Friends of Basildon Golf Course was formed to prevent the desecration of this ecologically valuable, bio-diverse public amenity.”